Worldgolf Travel

Africa - the Dark Continent
- and golf.

Somehow the two just don't seem to go together. But well they should. Golf has been a tradition and part of the sporting life of the continent for over one hundred years. A golf holiday here would take in some of the most unique and interesting courses and clubs in the world. This would be an opportunity to play the links that made champions of Bobby Locke, Gary Player, and Nick Price.

Courses in South Africa range from British-style links, where the unpredictable weather can turn easy holes into nightmares, to elevated courses on the Mpumalanga (formerly the Transvaal) Highveld, where shorthitters become super drivers in thin air. On some courses animal life comes into play as monkeys grab balls and disappear with them and at least one course saw fit to post a warning sign at a water hazard: "Beware of Hippos and Crocodiles". Cape Town sports a few links-type courses where visitors from Britain may well be thinking that they have never left home.

A typical golf vacation in South Africa might begin with a stay at the lavish Palace of the Lost City at Sun City in Bophuthatswana, South Africa. Sun City's two golf courses attract the world's finest players. The Gary Player Country Club has been home for many years to the annual Million Dollar Golf Challenge, and it is complimented by the desert-style, Lost City Golf Course (over 7,000 yards long, par 72 and rated 76). This offers magnificent views and unique challenges, including live crocodiles as a permanent hazard at hole 13.

George, a peaceful Old World cathedral town founded in 1812, is situated along the scenic Garden Route and set against the backdrop of the Outeniqua Mountains. Here we find "the Augusta of Africa" course - Fancourt's with streams, pools, flowers, and towering oaks. Ideal for golf, the setting here includes views of the Indian Ocean.

Cape Town - South Africa's "Mother City". Amidst the surrounding wine country and some of the region's old Cape Dutch buildings is the Stellenbosch Golf Club, a beautiful old course with wide fairways, lots of trees, and true greens. Founded in 1885, the Royal Cape Golf Club is South Africa's oldest and most exclusive club and features a course with narrow fairways lined by trees and thick shrubs and undergrowth.

Zimbabwe, graced with a pleasant climate and some of the most competitive men and women in the world, has a great golfing tradition that goes back to before the turn of the last century when the first official golf club was founded in Bulawayo. In virtually every center around Zimbabwe, visitors will find challenging courses and willing opponents.

The Elephant Hills course at Victoria Falls has been reconstructed on the site of the original Gary Player designed course, which became derelict after the hotel was rocketed in the seventies, during the liberation war. The new course layout was re-designed to make it shorter and more playable than the original, and now provides a major attraction to residents of the imposing new Elephant Hills Hotel, as well as to local players. Wildlife can often be seen sharing the fairways with the golfers, especially the warthog, which enjoys rooting in the soggy areas of the water hazards. This 18 hole course over 6204 meters is regarded as one of the most challenging in Africa. Not to be missed is a tour of Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Highlights of the area would include a Zambezi River cruise, visit to a craft village, and native African dancing.

The Leopard Rock development in the Vumba Mountains on Zimbabwe's eastern border near Mutare has a similar history. It was also subject to attack and fell into disrepair during the liberation war years. The hotel has recently been rebuilt, renovated and refurbished, and the golf course totally redesigned and constructed by Peter Matkovich and Dale Hayes. Imagine an 18 hole golf course that winds its way throughout the undulating hills, lush sub-tropical foliage, sparkling dams and lakes and this is Leopard Rock's Championship Golf Course. Breathtaking views of the plains below the mountains and into Mozambique enhance the enjoyment of playing on this superb course. The course has been built to USGA standards and specifications - Par 71, 6164 meters.

Royal Harare Golf Club, situated only minutes from the city center, is Zimbabwe's premier course. Founded at the turn of the century, this 18 hole Championship course covers 6467 meters, and is set in wooded parkland that is rich in birdlife and grazing deer. Recognized as one of the best 50 courses outside the United States. Royal Harare will be 100 years old in 1998, and the centenary celebrations will mark a major milestone in the history of one of the finest golf clubs in Africa.

Bulawayo Golf Club was established in 1895, and is the oldest golf club in Zimbabwe. After playing the 6431 meter course, a sunset tour of the Motobo National Park or visit to Chipangali Animal Park would complete your African experience in Bulawayo. A golfing experience with fantastic scenery and unique wildlife awaiting you on every course is part of the adventure awaiting you in Southern Africa.

Other articles of Interest: Shedding Light on the Dark Continent
A Golfing Safari to Kenya